With the 2014 NHL season right around the corner, here is how each team stacks up heading into the new year.
1. Los Angeles Kings - The Los Angeles Kings have won two of the last three Stanley Cups and enter this season with nearly the exact same team from a year ago. Hard to have any team above the Kings until they prove otherwise.
2. Chicago Blackhawks - The Chicago Blackhawks are probably the most talented team in the NHL and the addition of Brad Richards is a major upgrade at center. The Blackhawks will be hungry after coming up short last postseason.
3. Anaheim Ducks - As if the Anaheim Ducks needed any more offensive firepower, they went ahead and added Ryan Kesler, a player who is good for 20-30 goals when healthy.
4. Boston Bruins - Nobody in Boston can be thrilled with the loss of Jarome Iginla, but the Bruins are still one of the more physical teams in the league and remain the cream of the crop in the Atlantic.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning - The issue for the Tampa Bay Lightning last season simply came down to injuries. With a healthy Ben Bishop and Steven Stamkos, the Lightning should be ready to make some serious noise once again this season.
6. St. Louis Blues - The St. Louis Blues were already one of the more consistent teams at both ends of the ice and just got better with the addition of Paul Stastny. Watch out!
7. Colorado Avalanche - Nathan MacKinnon should be even better with another year under his belt and adding Jarome Iginla can’t hurt. The Avalanche will still have a say in the Central.
8. New York Rangers - The New York Rangers now know that they can win under Alain Vigneault and would love nothing more than to have another shot at the Cup. The Rangers are a close bunch and no longer one of the underdogs in the East.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins - Losing Jussi Jokinen and James Neal certainly doesn’t help, but the Pittsburgh Penguins are still one of the more talented teams in the East and is always a threat with a healthy Sidney Crosby.
10. San Jose Sharks - The San Jose Sharks are nearly the exact same team that won 51 games last season. The Sharks are a group of veterans that know how to win.
11. Minnesota Wild - The Minnesota Wild got much needed offensive help with the addition of Thomas Vanek. Now the Wild have to figure out their goaltending issues before taking that next step.
12. Montreal Canadiens - The Montreal Canadiens have gotten better each season under Michel Therrien. The next step for Montreal to continue improving would be to get a shot at the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1992.
13. Detroit Red Wings - The Detroit Red Wings have not missed the playoffs since 1989. That’s worthy of a decent ranking and as long as the Red Wings can remain healthy, that streak won’t end this season.
14. Dallas Stars - The Dallas Stars needed one more player to really get over the hump and they likely got him in Jason Spezza. The Stars are truly ready to compete now in the loaded West.
15. Washington Capitals - With a great 1-2 punch in Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, the Washington Capitals just need to improve defensively in order to return back to the playoffs.
16. Nashville Predators - The Nashville Predators should be more aggressive offensively with Peter Laviolette at head coach. Of course, a healthy Pekka Rinne at goalie doesn’t hurt either.
17. Columbus Blue Jackets - The Columbus Blue Jackets are a talented team regardless, but has the potential to be even better if it’s able to put Ryan Johansen’s contract negotiations to bed.
18. New Jersey Devils - The New Jersey Devils need to find some offense before they can return to the playoffs for the first time in a couple of years. It’ll be interesting to see how goalie Cory Schneider handles the pressure of being the No. 1 starter.
19. Philadelphia Flyers - Kimmo Timonen’s blood clots certainly aren’t helping the Philadelphia Flyers progress. Still, the Flyers usually find a way to remain competitive and I don’t expect any different this season.
20. Arizona Coyotes - Great goaltending gives any team a chance to win and a healthy Mike Smith will do just that for the Arizona Coyotes.
21. Vancouver Canucks - Speaking of goalies, if Ryan Miller can return anywhere close to what he was for Buffalo, the Vancouver Canucks will be a lot more competitive than they were a season ago.
22. New York Islanders - The New York Islanders have made the playoffs just once in the last seven years and with a couple of injuries, it doesn’t look like that trend is going to end this season.
23. Florida Panthers - The Florida Panthers are eager to make a run at the playoffs for the first time in forever by adding some experience to go along with intriguing youth. Only time will tell for this franchise.
24. Toronto Maple Leafs - It’s going to be another long season for the Toronto Maple Leafs if they can’t improve their defense and power play killing.
25. Winnipeg Jets - The Winnipeg Jets should be a better team than they were a year ago with a full season under head coach Paul Maurice, but thats truly not saying much.
26. Calgary Flames - The Calgary Flames got their upgrade at goalie with the addition of Jonas Hiller, but holes remain offensively that will prevent them from accomplishing much.
27. Ottawa Senators - The Ottawa Senators will find it hard to replace Jason Spezza’s production.
28. Carolina Hurricanes - The Carolina Hurricanes has some experience that should be paying off, but the lack of any big moves during the offseason lead me to believe it’ll be another season down the drain.
29. Buffalo Sabres - The Buffalo Sabres made a lot of moves during the offseason and have a solid team that will be competitive in a couple of years. Unfortunately, the future isn’t right now for Buffalo fans.
30. Edmonton Oilers - The Edmonton Oilers couldn't do anything right last season, ranking dead last in goals allowed and 24th in goals scored.